893.00/8–3145: Telegram

The Ambassador in China ( Hurley ) to the Secretary of State

1480. Mao Tze-tung, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, and General Wedemeyer and members of his staff, have just concluded a conference in the American Ambassador’s home in regard to the killing of the American Captain J. M. Birch, Allied Commission, on August 29, allegedly by Communist troops at the railway station of Suchow, sometimes known as Tungshan, approximately 100 miles from the seacoast. I was present at the conference.

Mao Tze-tung said he had no information on the subject but if clash had taken place he hastened to apologize and to assure General Wedemeyer that the Communist Party High Command had taken precautions to avoid clashes between Americans and Communists. Wedemeyer insisted that the Communist High Command had not indicated a desire to prevent such clashes. He called attention to the [Page 543] fact that four American OSS officers had landed by parachute in a Communist area last May; that they had been captured and disarmed by the Communists and held as prisoners of war and that Mao Tze-tung had not replied to Wedemeyer’s letter or dispatches relative to that incident. Mao claimed he did not receive any letters or despatches from Wedemeyer and that the four officers would, if they were still in custody, be immediately released and that he had told the Commander of the American Observer Group at Yenan sometime ago that the officers would be returned to Chungking if Wedemeyer would send a plane to transport them.

Wedemeyer was direct and firm. He insisted that America had not participated in politics in China; that Americans were here as soldiers and as the friends of China and that the killing of an American officer by Communists would be deeply resented by Americans both here and in America. Wedemeyer will report the incident to the War Department and you may obtain his full report from the Secretary of War.

Mao Tze-tung of the Chinese Communist Party said he would institute an immediate investigation of the matter, that if an American was killed by Communist troops he apologized and said he would see that those who were guilty were punished.